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Questions to Ask During an Initial Interview

Questions to Ask During an Initial Interview

The initial interview, often over the phone, is one of the most critical stages in the hiring process. It is typically your first interaction with the hiring team, and a solid first impression is crucial! Thus, you must prepare for this interview like any other – research the company, know the job description like it’s the back of your hand, practice answering common interview questions, and prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer. Here are some of the best questions to ask during an initial interview to leave a firm first impression and gain insight into the position.

When are you looking to make a hiring decision?

Asking this question will give you a better understanding of when the company is looking to make a hiring decision. This question can help if you are entertaining multiple job offers and looking for a timetable when you can expect them to decide on a candidate. Understanding the hiring decision timetable also provides insight on when to follow up if you have not heard back yet. If you a decision is expected to be made by a specific date, this will help you determine when it is appropriate to follow up with the hiring team on their decision.

What changes has the company made during the pandemic?

This question is vital to ask during an initial interview. It will reveal how the company acted during an uncertain time and what changes they made to keep their employees safe. Understanding how the company reacted to this challenging time will help you determine if this is the right match for your needs in a future employer. This question can also give some insight into how this position or company has changed during the pandemic. Will you be working onsite 100% of the time? Or are there work-from-home days to offer added flexibility?

What will mark success in the first 90 days?

Another excellent question to ask during an initial interview is how they will measure success in the first three months of your employment. The hiring team’s answer will help you determine if their expectations are realistic and understand what they anticipate from you. If the company has unrealistic expectations for the role in question, it may be a red flag. On the other hand, the answers to this question can allow you to speak on some of your past accomplishments; you can explain how these achievements can help tackle these benchmarks at the beginning of this new position. Basically, this gives you an opportunity to run for the hills or sell yourself on why you are the right person for this job.

Who will I work with most closely within this position?

If the interviewer doesn’t provide any details on the team makeup or who you will be working with, this is a great question to ask. Asking who you will be working with will help you know how collaborative this role is. Will you have a ton of independence and autonomy in this role? Will you be working with teams across different departments on projects? Learning about the team dynamic will help you determine if this role is a good fit for your working style.

Ready to take on a new job opportunity?

These are a few of the questions you can ask in an initial interview to clarify any unknowns about the position. Are you ready to put your interviewing skills to the test? Browse our latest job opportunities and partner with us today! We have hundreds of exciting positions across North America. If you are not ready yet, here are some more resources to help you excel through the hiring process.

How To Assess An Employer During A Remote Hiring Process

How To Assess An Employer During A Remote Hiring Process

During a traditional hiring process, one where you interview with a prospective employer in person, it is pretty easy to get a feel for the company. You get to see how co-workers interact with each other, what the office environment is like, and get a general feeling for the company. However, with most interviewing processes becoming remote, it can be challenging to understand these things and evaluate if this company is a good fit. If you are trying to determine if a company you are interviewing with is a good match, here is how to assess an employer during a remote hiring process.

Do your due diligence

Before you even apply for a job, take some time to do your due diligence for the company. Check out their website and read their mission, vision, and any information you can find about their culture. You can typically find this information on “about us” or “career” pages. See if they have a blog or social media to find some behind-the-scenes posts about their team. You may even get some great examples of how their team interacts or bonds with one another while working remotely. 

If you want some examples of the company’s culture from the horse’s mouth, take a look at company reviews. You can find reviews from current and past employees on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Google. Take a few minutes to read some reviews and see what employees are commenting about their culture.

Ask specific questions during your interview

One of the best ways to get a feel for a company during a remote hiring process is to ask specific questions. You will likely have some questions you want to ask the hiring manager or recruiter after doing your research. Write these down and prepare yourself to ask them during your interview (if they don’t already come up naturally). These questions must be specific to be effective. If you ask cookie-cutter questions like “what is your company culture like?”, you will get generic answers. Ask questions about the things that matter to you – the aspects of an employer that will impact your decision to work there or not.

Here are a few good example questions you can ask:

  • What was the most significant obstacle your company had to overcome after the pandemic hit?
  • How does your team remain close, even when working remotely?
  • How has your company culture changed with parts of the team working remotely?
  • What does the team do for fun with the lack of in-person activities?

Pay attention to what you can

With a remote hiring process, it is more challenging to pick up on red flags or cues. However, as you navigate through the process, you have to pay close attention to what you can. Observe body language during virtual interviews to gauge the excitement of the team and hiring manager. Are they excited to meet with you and have positive energy? Or does everyone seem disengaged and act as they’d rather be anywhere else? Interviews are serious interactions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t determine if the team gets along well with each other and has fun.

Looking for more job search tips?

These are three ways you can assess an employer during a remote hiring process. If you are looking for more job-search advice, take a moment to review our candidate resources! We have hundreds of useful tips to help you excel through your job search. Or, if you are ready to find a new opportunity that’s right for you, take a look at our job board.

Four Activities to Master During Your Job Search

Four Activities to Master During Your Job Search

Searching for a new job is much more than just scouring online job boards and refreshing your inbox every five minutes. There are many ways you can bolster your search in the background of your job hunting journey. If you are looking for better results, here are four activities to master during your job search.

Clean up your social media

Did you know that nearly 70% of employers check candidates’ social media when making hiring decisions? While you are in between applying for jobs, take some time to clean up your social media accounts. If you have some distasteful or unprofessional posts, it’s probably a good idea to remove them. So, next time you see one of those cringy Facebook memories from years ago, consider deleting it. Moreover, if you are worried about a future employer seeing your social media content, it might be best to make some or all of your profiles private. It is pretty easy to change your privacy settings on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Become familiar with virtual interview platforms

Another activity to master during your job search is familiarizing yourself with popular virtual interview platforms. If you have experience with platforms like Teams or Zoom, you are in good shape. However, if you don’t have much experience with these technologies, it’s worth your time to get to know them. Take a page out of the book from this prosecutor from Texas.

Save yourself from any embarrassing video interview moments to ensure your meeting goes purrfect!

Create a side hustle

If you have been unemployed for a while, have you considered working on a side hustle? Many people across the world are marketing their skills on a consulting basis. Creating a side hustle is an excellent way to extend your network, bolster your portfolio, and make a little money on the side. There are numerous programs out there like Fiverr and Udemy, each with different perks or specialties. So, whether you are a content creator, engineer, or excellent writer, there are plenty of opportunities to create a side hustle and make some spare cash during your job search.

Partner with a recruiter

Another activity to master during your job search is developing a partnership with a recruiter. Recruiting firms like JSG are looking for talented candidates to help them discover their next job opportunity. We have strong relationships with hiring managers and help you from resume submittal to signing your offer letter. Our team at JSG is ready to help you find your next position. We have hundreds of jobs across North America with clients ready to hire talented workers just like you. Reach out to us today, and let’s get you back to work!

Why Remote Interviewing is Here to Stay

Why Remote Interviewing is Here to Stay

Almost every company that was hiring throughout the pandemic was forced to shift to a remote hiring process. Employers were making difficult hiring decisions without even meeting a candidate face-to-face. As we continue to recover from the virus and return to our old ways, many companies will maintain remote interviewing practices that they adopted last year. Of course, some employers will return to the office, and it will be “business as usual;” however, remote interviewing is here to stay, at least in some facets, for most companies. Here’s why.

Less geographic barriers

In a traditional face-to-face interview, there are limitations on talent pools. You will receive the majority of your candidates from your local market or others that are nearby. But with remote hiring processes, an employer’s candidate pool is vastly different. You can essentially interview candidates from across the country. Employers can hire anyone from anywhere! With larger talent pools, employers can fill their vacant jobs faster and tap into groups of talent that would otherwise be unavailable. Less geographic barriers result in better hires and fewer turnovers.

Increased flexibility

Also, with remote interviewing, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility for both parties. For candidates, this means you don’t have to squeeze in an interview during a lunch break, call in sick, or rush after work to throw on your interview outfit. For employers, you don’t have to block out a massive chunk of your day or even week to host a group of candidates. With more flexibility, employers have more time to focus on their other responsibilities or even schedule additional interviews to expand their talent pool.

Easier on the budget

Remote interviewing is also easier on the budget. You no longer have to fly out candidates to spend an entire day or afternoon interviewing, going out to lunch or dinner, and parading them around the office or job site. With virtual interviewing becoming a staple, you no longer have to pay for a candidate’s airfare, hotel, meals, and other expenses. Of course, there will be circumstances where you will need to fly a candidate in, maybe for a leadership role. However, most candidates don’t need an all-day interviewing event before an employer can make a decision.

Supports diversity and Inclusion efforts

A big push for many companies is an emphasis on diversity and inclusion programs. Employers are diligently working towards fostering a more inclusive hiring process and working environment. Remote hiring can aid these efforts by eliminating hiring biases. Hiring professionals tend to gravitate towards candidates that mirror their own backgrounds. As a result, recruiters and hiring managers may overvalue hard skills instead of considering a candidate’s interpersonal or soft skills. With remote interviews, a candidate’s skills have the opportunity to speak for themselves instead of allowing unconscious biases from affecting a hiring decision.

Need to prepare for an upcoming remote interview?

So, these are just a few reasons why remote interviewing is here to stay long after the pandemic. If you are looking for resources to help you prepare for your upcoming virtual interview, you’ve come to the right place! Please take a look at our interviewing tips, tricks, and insights here. Good luck!

How to Prepare for A Phone Interview in 2021

How to Prepare for A Phone Interview in 2021

Congratulations! Your hard work is paying off, and you are finally getting some traction with your job search. You have a phone interview scheduled, and you are starting to get a little anxious. Don’t fret – with a bit of preparation and practice, you can enter your conversation feeling confident. If you are looking for a refresher course on how to prepare for a phone interview, here are five simple tips to make an excellent impression on the hiring manager.

Set up a professional voicemail

When was the last time you reviewed your voicemail? We typically don’t call ourselves, so your voicemail might be out of date or a little too casual. Take a few minutes to listen to your voicemail and update it if necessary. Make sure it’s professional yet friendly and that there is no background noise. You never know when you for some reason might miss an interview call or play phone tag with each other. 

Check your battery and cell reception

Since you will probably be using your cell phone during your phone interview, make sure the battery is fully charged. The last thing you want to happen is your phone to die halfway through your conversation. Have the battery charged up and silent your phone to not receive any distracting notifications buzzing in your ear. Also, ensure your phone reception is strong, so the call quality is impeccable. Your voice must come out crystal clear, and for you, you must have strong enough service to be able to hear your interviewer without any hiccups.

Have important documents at the ready

Since you can have this phone interview in your home, you can access important application documents. You can pull up your resume, cover letter, job description, the company website, and other essential documents. If you do this on your computer, close all your other windows and mute your computer so you can silently switch between them. If you want to print them out, have them organized so you aren’t struggling to shuffle through them on the phone. Having these documents at the ready can help you brilliantly answer any questions that might otherwise catch you off guard.

Take notes

During your phone interview, you should be taking notes. Jot down important things the hiring manager says or something you want to discuss further in your interview. In an interview, time flies by, and you can easily forget an excellent question as quickly as you can formulate it. Have a notepad and pen within arm’s reach to write down notes, questions, or anything else you might find valuable throughout the interviewing process.

Show enthusiasm in your voice

A crucial part of a traditional face-to-face interview is body language – nodding your head, smiling, and other non-verbal cues that illustrate your excitement and personality. In a phone interview, you don’t have this opportunity, so you must demonstrate your enthusiasm in your voice. To make sure there is excitement in your voice, don’t forget to smile! It’s true what they say; you can hear someone smiling in their voice. Also, remember it is okay to laugh if there is a funny moment in your interview.

Are you looking for more interview advice?

With social distancing and more people working from home, you can almost bet one of your interviews will be conducted through the phone. These are just a few easy ways you can prepare for a phone interview in 2021. If you are looking for more interview advice, check out our interview insight page for dozens of helpful tips, tricks, and suggestions to nail your interview!

Three Surprising Reasons Why You Didn’t Get the Job

Three Surprising Reasons Why You Didn’t Get the Job

You recently finished a lengthy interviewing process and are patiently waiting for that offer letter in your inbox. You tailored your resume, you thought your interview went well, and a new job is almost in your grasp. But instead of an offer letter, you receive an email with the subject line: “thank you for your time.” What went wrong? How did you not receive the job you thought you had in the bag? Here are three surprising reasons why you didn’t get the job.

There is a more qualified candidate

One surprising reason why you didn’t get the job is that the market is too competitive. Not too long ago, it was a candidate-driven market. Almost every employer was hiring, and job seekers had plenty of power (and opportunities!). Fast forward to 2021 and we are still recovering from the pandemic. Employers are beginning to hire again, but with unemployment numbers soaring, your competition will be fierce. So, you could be a great candidate who is perfectly qualified for the position; however, there is sadly just someone with more experience or a stronger skill set in today’s competitive market.

Your transferrable skills didn’t translate well

Many job seekers are transitioning into new careers or a different industry, with better hiring prospects in the post-pandemic world. As a result, hiring managers and recruiters are looking for transferrable skills, which you acquire from previous positions or education, and transfer them to a new position. They are current skills that you can shift to another position. These skills will allow you to transition into a new career, even if you don’t have direct experience in the industry. For example, you can transfer management or leadership skills from one job to another. So, since your current occupation may not be hiring due to the pandemic, you might be in the process of entering another. Thus, if you fail to express how your skills set can be transferred to the position you are interviewing for, it may be a reason why you didn’t receive the job.

You didn’t ask good questions in your interview

Job interviews are typically not one-sided. At some point, you will have the opportunity to ask your interview some questions about the role, the company, or something else you discussed in your meeting. If you leave your interview without asking engaging questions that reiterate your knowledge and interest in the position, you likely won’t receive a job offer. You must ask some insightful questions if you want to make a lasting impression. These are questions that can give you more insight into the job’s day-to-day duties, the team dynamic, department goals, and other valuable information. These questions will likely come naturally as your conversation progresses but if you need some excellent questions to have in your back pocket, here are four questions you should ask in your next interview.

Need more job search tips?

These are just three common reasons why you didn’t receive the job. There are obviously many different reasons you didn’t get an offer; however, these three reasons are things to be conscious of before your next interview. If you are looking for more career advice or job searching tips, review our candidate resources for tons of helpful advice. Good luck!

Modern Updates To Old School Interview Rules

Modern Updates To Old School Interview Rules

Job interviews have always come with a common set of rules. Make good eye contact, ask great questions, etc. However, due to recent events, these old school interview rules require an update! Here are three old school interview rules along with their socially acceptable modern updates.

Old Rule: Greet The Interviewer With A Firm Handshake

Since the dawn of time, one of the pinnacle interview tips was to greet your interviewer with a firm handshake. Then, a global pandemic hit, and suddenly everyone became much more aware of their personal hygiene and interactions with others. Now, reaching a hand out in greeting could put your interviewer in an awkward spot or, even worse, make a bad first impression.

New Rule: Instead of a handshake, offer a polite smile and wave.

Even if you’re wearing a mask, an interviewer will be able to see your smile in your eyes! And if the interviewer does reach out for a handshake, it is perfectly acceptable to politely decline. Try to reserve judgment; old habits die hard!

Old Rule: Don’t Ask About PTO

 It was frowned upon for you to inquire about paid time off (PTO) during an interview as early as last year. It was seen as eager and tasteless. However, we have undergone some significant global changes since then! Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the priorities of most professionals have shifted.

New Rule: You can ask about PTO policies (if you do it the right way!)

No, we aren’t recommending that you barge into your interview demanding to know how much vacation time they’re offering. However, as you progress through the hiring process, it is understood that how companies handle PTO is important during unprecedented times.

Try framing it this way: “What are your PTO policies in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic?” Or, if you need to dig a little further, “How has COVID-19 affected your company-wide policies? Do you offer remote work options? Has it impacted vacation or sick leave policies?

Old Rule: If they ask about salary, you have to tell them what you’re making

It was common for an interviewer to ask you to share your current salary in the not so distant past. Moreover, it was expected that you answer!

New Rule: Not only is it okay for you to not answer this question directly; in some states, it is even illegal for an interviewer to ask!

Here are the states which have implemented state-wide salary history bans:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Alabama
  • Washington
  • North Carolina
  • Michigan
  • Hawaii
  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico

Additionally, 17 cities have implemented local bans on inquiring about salary history.

But what if you’re in a state where it is still technically legal for an employer to ask what you make? Well, the good news is you have options. You can certainly decline to answer; however, we recommend you do your research first. If you go into an interview knowing your value, you can instead provide the interviewer with a desired salary range.

Your answer would look like this: “In my next position, I am looking to make between $65,000 and $70,000.” An even better option? Partner with a JSG Recruiter to find your next position, and you can refer the interviewer to us. We’ll handle it for you!

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, head over to our candidate resources to browse jobs, explore job search tips, and get a jump start on your journey.

5 Signs You Nailed Your Interview

5 Signs You Nailed Your Interview

Usually, it is pretty easy to know when an interview is going well, and when it’s going not so well. As a human being with emotional intelligence, you can typically understand how well you are doing in an interview based on verbal and non-verbal cues. However, there are a few signals that indicate your interview is going extraordinarily well, like receiving a job offer well. Here are five signs you nailed your interview.

Body language is indicating excitement

Positive body language is one of the easiest signs indicating you nailed your interview. When your interviewer has a big smile on their face, nodding their head in agreement, and genuinely looks interested in what you are saying, those are all strong signs the interview is going well. It’s easy to tell when a hiring manager isn’t engaged or looks bored. Positive body language is a sure sign that they like what you are saying and that your meeting is going well.

The conversation turns more causal

When your conversation turns more casual, that is a strong indication you are nailing your interview. If your conversation transitions from a formal business meeting to more of a back-and-forth conversation, they like what they hear! It might be some small talk or bouncing ideas off of each other. Either way, when the interview transitions from question and answer to conversational, you’re doing great!

The interviewer keeps bringing people in

If your interviewer says something on the lines of, “Let me grab [co-worker name] or “I want you to meet [co-worker name], you should be feeling confident! Your interviewer would not waste their co-workers’ time by bringing them into your interview if they weren’t excited about you. If they show you around and actively introduce you to others or have other people join mid-way through your meeting, you are rocking it! If this is happening, your interviewer wants other decision-makers to weigh in on your candidacy.

You start hearing “when” instead of “if”

When your interviewer is using words like “when,” “us,” or “our,” it’s going well. For example, if they say, “when you receive your background check” or “this is where our team often meets,” that is a strong sign they are already picturing you in the position. If they believe you are a good fit for the job, they may start unintentionally use language that illustrates it’s only a matter of time until you are part of the team.

They give you clues on the next steps

Towards the end of your interview, if the hiring manager starts cluing you in on the next steps, that shows you are nailing it. If they start talking about onboarding, the second round of interviews, or a timeline for a hiring decision, it shows they have an interest in you. Your interviewer would not bother sharing those details unless you were at the top of their list. So, if your interviewer starts voluntarily sharing the next steps, that is an excellent sign you’re nailing your interview.

Need more interview advice?

These are five signs that you nailed your interview. Obviously, none of these signs guarantee you a job offer, but they are generally good hints that you did well. If you are looking for more interview advice, check out our candidate resources on the JSG blog!

questions you should as in your next interview

4 Questions You Should Ask in Your Next Interview

If you have an upcoming interview, you are probably sitting there thinking about what questions you should ask your interviewers. I mean, you really want to impress them and advance through the hiring process. But what questions will leave a lasting impression? What can you say to gain more clarity about the role, the team dynamics, and the company’s core values? Here are four questions you should ask in your next interview.

How can I make an immediate impact in this position?

Asking how you can impact the company demonstrates your willingness to come in and hit the ground running. It also gives you critical insight into what you will be working on from your first days on the job. The hiring manager might mention a project they are in the middle of or even a problem that needs to be addressed. This question is an excellent opportunity to ask further questions or to provide a background on how you completed a similar project or solved a related issue in the past. This allows you to show how you can make a difference from day one.

What does success look like in this position?

Another great question to ask in an interview is what success will look like in this position. Every company has different goals and measures success differently. Asking this question will help you identify how this prospective employer will measure success in this position and what their goals are for you. You need to understand what the KPIs are, how they are measured, and how often they are tracked before accepting any position! It’s always nice to understand what is expected of you.

Who will I be working with most closely?

Asking about the team and who you will be working the most closely with is an easy way to understand the dynamics of the company. Will you be working with just other people on your team? Or will you be working alongside others from different departments? Thus, it is essential for you to understand how cross-functional the role is to see if it fits what you are looking for in a new position.

Are there opportunities for professional development?

With this question, you are looking for how the company invests in their staff. Are you put into a role with the expectation to just to do your job? Or are there opportunities for growth, training, and career advancement? Learning and development programs are growing in popularity, so if an employer doesn’t offer growth opportunities, it is a huge red flag!

Are you ready to answer common interview questions?

So, these are four insightful questions you should ask in your next interview. Now that you know what to ask the hiring manager, it’s time to brush up on common interview questions. Here are interview questions that you should prepare to answer in your next interview.

How to Prep for An Interview in 2021

How to Prep for An Interview in 2021

A new year is often a symbol for a fresh start, and for many people, that means a career change. 2020 was a rough year for many of us, and a new job opportunity might be a much-needed spark. If you are planning on hitting the job market hard during the new year, here is how to prep for an interview in 2021.

Be physically and mentally prepared

The best way to prep for an interview in 2021 is to be physically and mentally ready. To physically prepare, have a notepad ready to take notes throughout the interview; this will help you craft the perfect thank you note or ask thoughtful questions later on during your interview. Additionally, you should take the time to research the company, its mission and values, and the hiring manager. Proper research will help you confidently answer interview questions and tie them back into the company or the role.

To mentally prepare, get a good night’s sleep before your interview. If you are sleep-deprived, it will be difficult for you to be on you’re A-game. Also, try not to work yourself up too much. Interviews can be stressful, especially if you are out of work. To mitigate this stress, do something that relaxes you beforehand. Go for a walk to clear your mind, drink your favorite tea or coffee, read a book, or whatever it is that will put you in a calm mindset. If you enter your interview with a load of stress on your shoulders, it will come through during your meeting.

Brush up on common interview questions

Another great way to prep for an interview in 2021 is to brush up on some common interview questions. Every interview is different, but most hiring managers will ask you a set of fundamental questions. These questions can range from “what is your biggest weakness?” to “tell us about a time you overcame a failure.” Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of the most common job interview questions with tips on how to answer them successfully (and with examples!).

Take a look at them here if you really want to ace your interview.

Prepare to interview virtually

As you prepare for an interview in 2021, you must be ready to interview virtually. Even as the pandemic winds down, many companies will continue to interview virtually as it is much more efficient. It’s easier for hiring managers to hop on a Zoom meeting for an interview instead of forcing candidates to come to the office or facility to meet face-to-face.

So, to prepare, ensure your equipment is up and running. If possible, use a web camera on a computer as you won’t have to worry about fumbling around with a phone. If not possible, prop up your phone or tablet, so the camera is steady and clear. Make sure your audio is working well and that you have a strong internet connection. Also, dress for success. Even though the interview is virtual, that doesn’t mean you can relax on your dress code. Dress appropriately for the interview to set a good impression. Most importantly, sit in a clean, quiet room with no distractions. The last thing you want to do is display your messy kitchen or have your kids running around in the background!